a finger is about to tool grout lines to make them smooth

Tooling Grout

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/8/2021

Chris Loves Julia
Chris Loves Julia

Grouting tiles may seem like tough work but it's essential for a great outcome. After it's had a chance to harden, the grout is responsible for creating a rigid and durable structure around the tiles. And, the newly created lines also help to ensure that the final product looks crisp, clean, and beautiful. To help get the job done right the first time, make sure you select the right type of grout, choose an appropriate joint size, and properly tool your grout lines.


When talking about a project that involves tiling, the term tooling typically refers to the process of finishing grout lines so that they appear uniform in width and depth. The process typically involves removing excess grout from in and around the grout lines while creating a slight concave to give the tiles a raised appearance. After the grout joints have been filled with an appropriate adhesive or mortar, a finishing tool or a finger is run over the lines to provide a smooth appearance. As a final step, the area needs to be wiped clean and the finished lines need time to dry.

What Size Grout Lines Require Tooling?

Although, it may sound like a tedious activity, the truth is that tooling grout can be a highly rewarding process when done properly. After all, the end results of all your hard work are basically going to determine the final look of the whole project, minus the clean-up and final touches. That’s why it’s important to consider a couple of things before you get started:

  • Although there are no standards for grout joint sizes, most tiles are separated by gaps that are typically between 1/8″ to 3/16″ in width. Sizes in this range can, in most cases, be tooled with a wet finger. Many people find tooling with your finger to be quicker and easier than using an actual tool.
  • Larger grout joints may require a special finishing tool, which can typically come with two or more sides. One side usually works like a blade for removing excess material from the surface and making everything level. The other side is typically rounded and is used to create a slight concave or groove in the grout line.